Gay actor Ian McKellen has criticised the “camp” portrayal of gays on television.

Addressing sixth form students at Sudbury Upper School in Suffolk, he said that comedy sketches such as Matt Lucas’ only gay in the village were not helpful in fostering tolerance, the East Anglian Daily Times reports.

McKellen, 70, said: “The idea of camp can be misleading. I have to confess that I am little disquieted at times by the way that gays are portrayed, particularly on television.

“Something like Little Britain is not particularly helpful. I know Matt Lucas will say that he is gay and it is not offensive but I don’t think it gets the right message across.”

He also suggested that more education was needed to stop the word ‘gay’ being used as an insult.

“The word gay has become used as a derogatory term and this is something which education can help to resolve,” he said.

“Either that or we choose another word to describe ourselves. I rather like another G word – glorious.”

The veteran star visited pupils as part of an event organised by Stonewall.